Amazon Keeps Fire Phone Alive with Big Update

The Fire Phone from Amazon has received anything but a warm welcome from smartphone users since the device was released in July. However, the online retailer has signaled its desire to keep the device alive by announcing a slew of new capabilities.

Among the new features rolling out with the Fire OS 3.6.5 software update are multi-language text translation functionality, custom ringtones, improved battery life and a photo tool called Best Shot that provides three versions of a picture. The update also delivers "hundreds of other bug fixes and user interface improvements," according to Amazon.

Although it has earned some good ratings in reviews, the Fire Phone has also been widely criticized for being little more than "a portable product scanner and ordering device tied to a single vendor," according to InfoWorld. Originally unveiled at $449.00 without a contract, the 32 GB version of the device is now available for $0 with an AT&T contract. Last month, Amazon cut the price of an unlocked Fire Phone to $199. In September, the company dropped the phone's price to 99 cents with a two-year AT&T contract.

'Back to the Drawing Board'

Amazon is also reportedly working on a new version of the Fire Phone, according to a VentureBeat. The report cited "several sources close to the situation" who said Amazon has "gone back to the drawing board" with the phone. The next version of the Fire Phone won't be released until 2016, according to the article.

Amazon's third-quarter earnings report reflected the Fire Phone's underwhelming sales with a $437 million net revenue loss and a $170 million write-down related to Fire expenses. At that time, the company was also reportedly sitting on an $83 million surplus of unsold Fire phones. Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices David Limp has acknowledged his company had...

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